Photo: Gizmodo

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guiding a path to a world without poverty

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has just published a consultation to seek views on the Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

Yet another set of guidelines? Allow me to raise my voice to be heard above that of the cynics among you  to reveal how these guiding principles can offer real progress in the fight against extreme poverty.

Firstly, real effort has been made to seek to views of people experiencing poverty. Organisations, including ATD Fourth World, have worked with groups of people living in poverty to ensure the guiding principles correspond to the challenges they face and the solutions they deem effective.

Secondly, they recognise that extreme poverty in itself constitutes a violation of human dignity and that for its effective eradication, priority attention should be given to the poorest and most excluded in society.

And thirdly, these guidelines are not a simple theoretical wishlist. They clearly define the responsibilities of duty bearers (government authorities) and provide a common point of departure for action by all those involved in the fight against poverty, whether from the public, private or NGO sector, based on the realities of the situation of persons living in extreme poverty. 

The consultation will run to June 2011 and a report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in early 2012. The report will be used to finalise the Guiding Principles, which will be presented to the Council for adoption in September 2012. 

The greater the response to this consultation, the more it will persuade the Human Rights Council of the importance of these Guidelines to the fight against poverty, thus facilitating the path toward their eventual adoption. 

One concrete action that people can take is to encourage their Government to respond to the consultation, as well as civil society organisations of which they are members. More information is available on the ATD Fourth World website.

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